Section 8 is a voucher designed to help the poor obtain housing with the assistance of taxpayer money. Having been established in 1997, the system has allowed millions of people to live with a degree of security that they would’ve not known previously. However there is still a stigma attached to those involved in the program. Here are some ideas to remove the stigma from the Section 8 housing program which support over 5 million people.
Remove Inspection Requirements
Landlords can reject prospective renters because they have a Section 8 voucher. The reason behind this rejection includes the round of inspections that the landlord will be subject to so the property is compliant with U.S. health regulations. By doing away with these inspections it could provide more of an incentive to landlords to allow Section 8 voucher holders to rent their properties.
Legislatures have taken a tougher approach to the problem. This is to push for ‘’source-of-income’’ laws which bans discrimination on the basis of the potential renter holding a Section 8 voucher. Such laws require enforcement from the law and provide less incentive for landlords to rent their property out in the first place.
Improve Incentives for Landlords
Changing the incentives associated with Section 8 could also bring big benefits as well. This could be done by increasing tax breaks and bonuses for landlords which is already happening in Illinois and Virginia. West Marin County in California experimented with a program for 2 years starting in 2016 that allowed landlords to be covered for damages and security deposits. If programs like this succeed, then it could be a game changer in the ongoing battle for poor renters to have their Section 8 vouchers accepted by landlords.
Increase Housing and Funding
Another idea that obeys the economic law of supply and demand is to vastly increase the supply of cheap housing. This could be done by slashing unnecessary regulations that make building new housing such a massively complex issue in the U.S. It was proven in W.W.2 that a Nissen hut could be built in 24 hours and it could provide adequate housing for soldiers and airmen for months at a time in all weather conditions. The cost of housing could be slashed dramatically if an updated solution was allowed to be rolled out by an entrepreneurial landlord which could cut out the messy situation we have today with Section 8. Vacant lots could be used and housing solutions could be enacted if local regulations concerning planning were overturned. Section 8 itself could be made obsolete if this route was taken.
Another solution would be to increase Section 8 funding. This would make it more attractive both for the landlord and the Section 8 voucher holders. However, this could lead to an inflationary knock on effect that would mean the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
What would be a great solution would be for rich people to build housing for the poor in order to show that they’re serious about making society better. This could provide a great deal of prestige for people who engage in such a project. Once again, local regulations would have to be altered to make this possible.
But whatever solutions are arrived at one thing is for sure. The stigma surrounding Section 8 needs to be stopped and all options need to be examined. A long term solution can’t come soon enough.